Bebo acquired for $25m by Amazon’s e-sports giant

19 Jun 2019

The former Bebo login page. Image: chrisdorney/Depositphotos

Bebo, the social network that once thrived in the UK and Ireland, has been acquired by livestreaming platform Twitch for $25m.

In 2008, AOL purchased social network Bebo for $850m. Now, more than 10 years later – via a return to its original developer for just $1m in 2013 – the brand is being sold again, but this new direction may come as a surprise to some.

According to TechCrunch, Bebo has been acquired by Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch for $25m. Completed earlier this month, the buyout included both Bebo’s IP and 10 employees.

Since its early days, the company has pivoted from trying to compete with the likes of Facebook and MySpace to developing products for the growing area of e-sports. After a less-than-successful attempt to develop its own streaming service, Bebo eventually found a niche with organising and running tournaments for some of the internet’s biggest gaming streamers. While its original website was no longer running, the platform allowed for streamers of all levels to create leagues and tournaments that other services didn’t really offer at the time.

It’s understood that Twitch was in a bidding war with an established social media and communications platform for gamers, Discord, which also wanted to tap into the success of Bebo’s latest iteration.

Bebo’s small team will now integrated into Twitch Rivals, the company’s casual e-sports operation that first launched in beta in 2018 and is now widely available. In a wider context, the acquisition will also play into Amazon’s efforts to boost its place in the gaming market.

Reports have suggested the e-commerce giant is looking to develop its own game streaming service to rival Google, Apple and others. Recent estimates from eMarketer showed that e-sports generated $869m in revenue for 2018, with approximately 400m users. This could increase to $1.58bn by 2022, according to a report from PwC.

The former Bebo login page. Image: chrisdorney/Depositphotos

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic